In 2 Timothy 2:4, Paul tells us that “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.” We somehow have forgotten about this part of scripture. It’s always far more convenient to only talk about those areas that are comfortable for us, or the commands with which we don’t struggle. In the passage above, the recruiter is obviously Jesus. He loves you and has been drawing you towards Him your entire life. Getting “entangled in the concerns of civilian life” means becoming obsessed with achieving success outside of His kingdom or constantly striving to acquire all the stuff that your neighbors and society at large have convinced you that you need.
Everything we do for Christ, every one of His commands, comes back to a single word: love. Whether it’s seeking to bring justice to the oppressed or set victims of human trafficking free (Isaiah 58:6), we do this out of love. When we feed the hungry or provide clean water to villages that previously had no access to it (Matthew 25:35), we demonstrate God’s love. Using our time and resources to care for the single mothers or homeless people (James 1:27) demonstrates our love for them. Love is the key to every ill of our society. It is the salve for every wound and conflict. Love is the only answer, and it looks exactly like Jesus.
For too long the Western church has rested on its laurels and has become fat and lazy. I am not speaking to those too few exceptions to the rule. I am speaking to the vast majority of American Christians who are content to go to church on Sunday and live the rest of their lives in pursuit of the American dream. We have bought into the lie that material success is proof of God’s blessing on our lives.
God never promised wealth to those who loved Him. This teaching goes beyond the so-called “health and wealth” theology, and has in fact become embedded in the church at large.
By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again —not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. – I Peter 1:22, 23 (HCSB)
I have often thought of the”imperishable seed” as speaking only of our eternal life with Christ. Taking a fresh look at the passage above, it appears there is more to it than this. Peter says that we are to love each other from a pure heart, born of an imperishable seed. There seems to be an implication that we are to love each other with the same eternal love that Christ loves us. Few would doubt that Christ’s love for us is eternal, without measure or end. Having His seed in us means that we also should love without measure or end. It is easy to “love for a little while”, but then to stop when the object of the love continues to be unresponsive to that love. But just as we are to forgive someone seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:21-23), I believe we are to love them seventy times seven times as well. Ironically it was Peter who asked the question about how many times we should forgive someone; now he writes about how we should love one another. Perhaps his conversation with Jesus was on his mind. Regardless, the principle is clear: we are to love everyone without motive and beyond measure.
It is admittedly much easier to love those to whom we are closest; it is much harder to love our enemies. Harder still, it seems, is to show this patient, unconditional love to complete strangers. Yet we are commanded to show this love to the homeless, the hungry, the addicts, the poor, the murderers. For Christians, demonstrating this kind of love is not optional. If we belong to Christ, this love is the seed within our very soul. It isn’t that we should love in this manner, it is that we must. Let us approach each day with eyes wide open to the needs of everyone around us, and let us fill those needs with the love of Christ.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”. – I Peter 2:9-10 (HCSB)
When we accept Christ, we become part of His family, His “chosen people”. Our obligation, as well as our desire if we truly love Him, is then to praise and honor Him by living a life where Christ shines through everything we do. Significantly, this “shining” must not only occur when we are around others, but at all times throughout our day. There is no “time-off” from Christianity. If we truly love Him, every moment, every aspect, of our life will be lived in such a way as to honor Him.
We are set apart by God, not because of who we are, but rather because we belive in Him and have accepted His gift of salvation through His Son. Once we receive this gift, we are honor bound to then live in such a way so that others will be drawn to Christ as well. We must live for God not only first, but always.
Father, thank You for offering such an amazing gift to me; thank You for considering me one of Your people and for setting me apart. May I strive always to live in a manner worthy of You.